In the News

Tomato Day Success Benefits School Gardens

DSC_0805Tomato Day 2016 was a slice of heaven on Sunday when 400 tomato lovers came to taste 80 varieties at MorningSun Herb Farm in Vacaville. And thanks to herb farm owners Rose and Dan, Slow Food Solano raised $2500 for its school garden grant program. Yes, it’s amazing how all those $5 donations add up. Plus this year we had the support of EB Stone Organics of Suisun and NorthBay Healthcare. They each gave matching donations of $250 which we managed to just meet from the generosity of additional donations by Tomato Day visitors and Slow Food members.

We also had the pleasure of great chef demonstrations by Il Fiorello Olive Oil Co. in Fairfield – thank you Darren and Elisabeth – Vacaville’s Backdoor Bistro owner/chef Lindsey Gilpin and the always irrepressible Annie Baker of Annie the of Napa.

Morningsun grew all the tomatoes this year next door to their herb farm and at Soul Food Farm down the road. A bonanza year for tomatoes – which Rose guesses they will be picking as late as the end of October. So if you are hankering for fresh, organic tomatoes, drop by Morningsun. At $2.50 a pound, it’s a great deal.

All hail glorious tomatoes!

Garden to Cafeteria Webinar Shares Successes and Models from Across the U.S.

webinarsThe National School Garden Program hosts monthly leader calls/webinars to provide our Slow Food chapters and school garden volunteers further support and technical assistance. Webinars are free and open to the public. Visit the website for upcoming and past calls, including the ability to download presentations and the recorded webinars.

Upcoming webinars:
June 23, 2016 at Noon PT (3pm ET) – Garden to Cafeteria: Successes, Challenges and Models from Across the U.S.

If you have ever encountered challeges getting your school garden produce into the lunchroom, you won’t want to miss this webinar provided by Slow Food USA. This month, they will be discussing the concept of Garden to Cafeteria (GTC). According to the Slow Food USA website, a GTC program can serve as an incredible educational opportunity for students and greatly contribute to changing a school food culture. However, successfully implementing a GTC program requires planning around food safety, proper training, and partnership development. Slow Food USA will describe their successes working with the county health department and food service to develop a robust GTC program in Denver, CO, and will highlight other exciting models from across the U.S.

Guest presenters:
Kyla Van Deusen, Program Manager for Captain Planet Foundation’s Project Learning Garden
Bang Tran, FoodCorps Service Member for Captain Planet Foundation in Atlanta, GA
Drew Thomas, School Garden Coordinator for Chicago Public Schools
Tristana Pirkl, Grant Programs Manager, Whole Kids Foundation

On Thursday June 23, 2016 at 3 PM ET
Join from your computer, tablet or smartphone:

The webinar is open to the public and will be recorded and available at

Slow Food Solano Awards School Garden Grants

(Vacaville, CA) Slow Food Solano has awarded a record $7,580 to support 28 school gardens in Solano County.

This is the tenth year that Slow Food Solano has awarded garden grants. The average grant is for $300. It allows teachers to buy seeds, plants, irrigation materials, shovels, gloves and other materials and supplies needed.

Teachers in elementary, middle and high schools across the County devote their time and effort to growing a garden. This year, 11 more grants were awarded than last year and 13 new applicants submitted applications.

Slow Food Solano Garden Grant Coordinator Carla Elvidge praised the commitment of the teachers who add the labor-intensive activity of growing a garden to their already challenging academic day.

She also thanked Mary Bourguignon, who has served as Slow Food’s grant coordinator for the first nine years of supporting school gardens, for her many years of service to develop and expand the program.

Awards were made to 9 programs in Vacaville, 12 in Vallejo, 4 in Benicia and 3 in Fairfield. The average award was for $300. An award was made to every applicant!

The Benicia grants were made to teachers at Joe Henderson Elementary School, Liberty High School, and two to Mary Farmar Elementary School (the main school and the kindergarten).

The Fairfield grants went to teachers at Suisun Valley Elementary School, Oakbrook Elementary School and Vanden High School.

The Vacaville grants were made to teachers at ACE Charter School, Alamo Elementary School, Browns Valley Elementary School, Buckingham Charter School, Cambridge Elementary School, the Child Start Inc-Head Start program, Cooper Elementary School, Edwin Markham Elementary School, and Orchard Elementary School.

Vallejo recipient schools included Annie Pennycook Elementary School, Everest Academy (middle school), Grace Patterson Elementary School, Highland Elementary School, John Finney High School, Lincoln Elementary School, Loma Vista Environmental Science Academy (both 3rd graders and the 4-8 grade youth leadership team), MIT Academy of Technology (high school), St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School, Steffan Manor Elementary School, and Vallejo Charter School (middle school).

Elvidge also thanked the school districts and the teacher unions’ leaders for getting the word out to teachers about the availability of these grants. “It has made a huge difference in the number of teacher who applied this year,” she says.

Each school has a unique project and a unique story to tell about their experience.

Grant recipients range from the 18-year old program at Alamo Elementary School in Vacaville to a brand new program at Highland Elementary School in Vallejo where second graders will plant and tend a seed in a cup. At Alamo, signs in the garden bar tell what food was grown and its health benefits. Curriculum lessons include life cycles of plants and insects.

The second graders at Highland will experience first-hand the life-cycle of a plant and will learn about growing nutritious food and accepting responsibility.

At John Finney High School in Vallejo, students in an after-school program called “the Change” maintain the garden. They have a focus on charity and donate many of the vegetables they grow to provide hot meals for the homeless once a week. They, like a few of the other schools, have a Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) program certified by Solano County.

The teacher at Oakbrook Elementary School in Fairfield, which has also had a garden for many years, reported, “We are grateful for the continued support of Slow Food Solano as our educational environment has become increasingly technological.”

At Mary Farmar Elementary in Benicia, class visits to the garden enhance curriculum, such as studying plant cells and the geosphere, math (percents), planting root vegetables for Borscht soup (history of Fort Ross and Russian immigrants).

Slow Food Solano is a local chapter of the non-profit Slow Food USA, whose goal is to help create and sustain a food system that is good, clean and fair. All money raised goes to support the School grant program. Individuals wishing to support school gardens with a tax-deductible contribution may donate online at

Carla Elvidge, Slow Food Solano Garden Grant Coordinator

Marilyn Farley, Slow Food Solano Garden Grant Assistant


Genentech Partners with Slow Food Solano

Genentech partners with Slow Food

Through a partnership with Slow Food Solano, over 40 Genentech employees transformed the school garden at Suisun Valley Elementary School in Fairfield this past June, and prepared it for the new school year. Besides building garden boxes, weeding and pruning, Genentech employees helped install the school’s first life lab laboratory and first human sundial. Suisun Valley Elementary School is a recipient of a school garden grant from Slow Food Solano, and incorporates the garden in the curriculum at all grade levels. (For background music, tap the vertical bars to the right of the progress bar on the video. It’s off by default).

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